Title: The Strangers on Montagu Street
Author: Karen White
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Publisher: NAL Trade
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Melanie Middleton is still reeling from the news of the existence Jack Trenholm’s teenage daughter when Jack and the girl herself, Nola, show up on Melanie’s doorstep. Convinced that her father knew about her and chose to abandon her as a child, Nola wants nothing to do with Jack. Melanie agrees to let Nola live with her for the time being, but she gets more than she bargained for when ghosts move in along with the teenage girl.
The Tradd Street series (composed of The House on Tradd Street and The Girl on Legare Street) is one of my favorite series currently being written. In each novel, Melanie must face the ghosts that surround her, both literal and metaphorical, growing into her talent and coming to accept it for what it is - a gift, rather than a curse. Because each book builds upon the last, it really is necessary to read these books in order. Not only will you be treated with rich stories, but you would miss out on some great character development were you to start with The Strangers on Montagu Street.
The Strangers on Montagu Street introduces a new, very important character to the series - Jack’s daughter, Nola. Troubled and frightened, Nola hides behind a tough exterior in order to hide the fragile girl within. She is traumatized by her mother’s death and feels like she is alone in the world. White did an exquisite job crafting Nola. The reader sees her act out, but it’s clear that she is filled to the brim with pain. Somehow, White manages to write a convincing teenager going through very troubled times without making her horribly frustrating. I really appreciated that balance - that readers could clearly see Nola acting out, but that it wasn’t overdone and it was easy to feel for her.
The relationship between Jack and Melanie is deliciously combative, as always. It’s clear that these two will eventually end up together, but Melanie has her own demons to face before that happens, and it’s important that she does so. Jack bothered me a little in this novel - it seemed like he was constantly teasing Melanie, challenging her to be brave enough to pursue something with him, all while he seemed to be in a relationship with someone else. Still, I do love Jack Trenholm, so despite this minor quibble, I did enjoy seeing their quasi-friendship progress.
I loved The Strangers on Montagu Street. It was wonderfully creepy, and I absolutely love the characters. The storyline is definitely interesting, though I found the resolution a bit anticlimactic (though understandable in the wake of other, more personal, revelations). This series is really amazing and it continually reminds me why Karen White is one of my favorite authors!